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For many, a new year can provide a fresh perspective and a life-altering change in direction. For those in the construction industry, “digital transformation” holds the greatest promise for truly making a substantive change in 2019. If implemented correctly, emerging technologies can help a contractor sharpen its focus, improve efficiency, reduce risks and eliminate redundancies at both the jobsite and corporate office.

Few would disagree that technology has played an increasingly prominent role in nearly all facets of life. And while late to the game in some respects, contractors are learning that the faster one assimilates technology, the faster they can propel their business ahead of the pack. 

Staying in tune with the latest technological tools is no longer merely an option. It has become a necessary part of a contractor’s toolkit and is vitally important for success. As such, there are three key areas where companies should focus their investment spend in 2019 to enhance their digital portfolio:

Project Cost Management

Many contractors are still using Excel to execute their estimating, budgeting and forecasting tasks; however, now is the time to start looking at new technologies. There’s a lot to be gained through the integration of spreadsheets into a more sophisticated software package. 

Bringing together critical budget, as-built and “what if” forecasting tools gives teams complete control over every aspect of project performance. Through estimating, for example, contractors can benchmark how they've performed historically and include those key learnings and data points into future estimates.

By selecting the right tools, forward-thinking contractors can streamline the entire process by creating benchmarked estimates and bid proposals. This gives them the confidence that the job can be built for the budgeted cost, and a more realistic expectation of a project’s trajectory through budget management and real-time forecasting.



Document Management

Today, many contractors store documents in a variety of different places – email, Dropbox or SharePoint folder, internal file server, etc. – but how many team members have access to all of these platforms and, if they do, what are the chances they know where the precise piece of information they need is located? Scattered resources make it difficult, if not impossible, to ensure everyone on the project team has the information they need when they need it.

But there’s a better way. By converting to a more holistic document management system, a contractor can utilize a single repository, whereby anyone involved in a project can access documents where they reside. In other words, the information is not only in “Bob's email,” it also resides within the repository and is available to everyone on the project team. This streamlines the documentation process, helps with versioning control and facilitates immediate communication when changes are needed or an issue arises. It enables a project team to manage, approve, distribute and track its project documents via a single, controlled source.

Having a single source of truth through a document management system enables everyone on the project to stay on the same page, instead of having different iterations of the same document in a dozen sets of hands. In the process, a contractor can eliminate communication failures across the entire project team through the coordination of emails and project tasks.

Having a repository can also mitigate risk. If there is a need to show or share documentation, the team can easily retrieve the necessary information – no matter the stage of the project. And once the project is complete, it’s much easier to turn it over to the owner and ensure they have all the information they need. The contractor can deliver a stand-alone, searchable and configurable package of project documents and data upon completion.



Project Planning & Scheduling

Savvy companies are starting to explore the benefits of artificial intelligence (AI), and the planning process in construction is one area where AI is already making impact.

While most companies have some sort of planning or scheduling process in place, many start their plans from scratch. However, by harnessing the power of technology they can leverage lessons learned from other projects and use that information as a baseline to begin the planning process, helping them to build a project plan in a matter of hours as opposed to weeks and months.

AI can spark ideas along the way or offer suggestions as a contractor progresses through a plan, integrating historical data and sharing benchmarks on schedule durations from past projects. As a result, contractors deliver more realistic project plans as AI provides smart suggestions based upon an organization’s historical project knowledge

While AI can provide suggestions, it still remains critically important to validate those proposals with project teams. Technology can help with that too. There are now tools that can help teams more easily share plans and fully utilize the expertise of the greater project team.

In the end, technology helps accelerate the planning process and creates a more accurate timeline. No longer is a contractor’s project planning process a “shot in the dark,” but a reality-based delineation of project outcomes.



Looking Ahead

Every contractor is at a different stage of their digital transformation journey. Whether they’re just starting out or well down the path, project cost management, document management and project planning and scheduling solutions are three areas they can’t afford to overlook. All can help quickly increase efficiencies, minimize risks and improve overall project performance, bringing them ever closer to being able to predictably deliver projects on time and on budget.

Want to see what your future projects could look like? Contact InEight to request a free demo and see how we’re helping companies transform their estimating, document management and project planning processes.

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